Posts Tagged “disney”

so, i’d been sorting through the 838 pictures we’ve got of Caroline’s first two weeks, looking for the perfect picture to print out and hand around my department following my return. the photo from the previous post was my final choice, and i was all ready to order the prints from walgreens when noticed i had a new email. it was from my cousin Loula (another awesome geekazoid in the family) and read as follows:

my extra best favorite.

i clicked the link, grabbed the fullsize version, and immediately changed my walgreens order to a billion prints of this picture. well actually, i messed with the levels in photoshop and added the caption from the previous photo, and THEN ordered a billion prints, but whatever. here is my (slightly) brightened version:

family pic - levels - small

i love it.

see, liz and i both have a problem with smiling at cameras. we get these fake smiles that are just… not right. it’s been a thorn in my side for as long as i have been actively appearing in pictures of my own free will, and i’m pretty sure liz feels more or less the same.

somehow though, we are perfectly capable of smiling genuinely and warmly at each other, even (especially) at odd or inappropriate times.

for instance, this idyllic photo seems to suggest a loving moment in the life of a new family, captured for all time by the rose-colored lens of frozen memory.

in actuality, i was trying to weasel out of changing caroline’s clearly toxic diaper, and liz was only barely restraining herself from committing murder. neat, huh?

now, there are those who will likely think that i just ruined this picture. i would disagree. i think that knowing the truth only enhances the value of the photo, as it adds to the reality, and welcomes the observer to join it.

perhaps i should explain.

i’ve never been a fan of posed photos. i understand the need and appeal in many situations, but they have always faintly disturbed me. i think it is the overpowering sense of nonreality that they tend to exude which is just offputting to me.

that being said, truly candid pictures are often no better, though in a different way. true candids are uncomfortable to some because they offer too much of a reality that is not their own. if your inner voice just said something like “but people love that kind of thing, i mean look at survivor and all the rest of reality TV!” then you may be slightly confused as to the definition of “reality.” i think that human nature tends to rebel against any reality that doesn’t fit well into their own, and in the role of an observer of someone else’s memories (viewing truly candid photographs), this manifests as mild discomfort or distaste.

i say this, knowing full well that 90% of the pictures we’ve got of us and caroline are true candids. that’s fine though, given the target audience. i think that true candids will always appeal to those close enough to the subject matter to share in their reality. my family and closest friends will appreciate nearly all of these pictures. in addition, the friends and family of my friends and family will likely appreciate most of them. there seems to be a certain trickle-down fadeout effect here.

but of the 800+ shots we’ve got, i think that perhaps 30 possess more general appeal. which is fine, really. we weren’t taking pictures for publication, for the internet, for mass media. these are for us.

but sometimes, just sometimes, a shot will sneak through that is more than candid, and more than posed. it’s a shot that simultaneously offers far more reality than either of these types of photos, but doesn’t cross the line into an uncomfortable disjunction of perception.

instead, it slips off into the realm of hyperreality (and i mean this in the true semiotics/umberto eco sense). essentially, we are welcomed to participate in a farcical transaction, wherein for the modest fee of our suspension of disbelief, we are allowed to witness this captured memory. with a smile and a wink, we agree that this, truly, is what reality is like, and then we go about our merry way, confident that we were only tricked insofar as we allowed ourselves to be tricked (bearded lady, indeed!).

and then, just we are leaving the sideshow tent, the huckster at the front tweaks the curtain just a tad, just enough to let us see what is actually happening in the scene. it is this exposure that will push the experience into the realm of hyperreality. either the added layer of truth will horrify (wait, the beard is a FAKE?? what a ripoff!) or delight (good lord, but she is BEAUTIFUL under that face wig!).

i am generally of the latter school of thought. i WANT to be fooled, but i also want to know the truth. sure, it takes a little bit more effort to suspend disbelief after the truth has stared you in the face, but it’s worth it.

it’s like disney world. (whoa, nice segue, yes?) really though, disney world’s primary appeal for me has always been this sense of hyperreality pervading the entire place (though i may not have used that particular word to describe it earlier in my life). if you stay in the disney resorts while you are there, you can literally spend an entire week (or whatever) living completely in this unbroken fantasy world.

and the best part is, you HAVE to fool yourself and allow yourself to be fooled to truly be taken up by the experience. ask my sister and brother-in-law. a few disney trips ago, we spent a fair amount of effort cataloguing (or at least counting) instances of what we called “disney ghetto.” these were little slipups on the part of the disney staff (”cast members”) that allowed the harsher nature of the underlying reality to show through the magical disney sheen. it was always amusing to note the stray cigarette butts behind maintenance sheds or whatever, and i think it’s just a fun sort of “i spy” game to play around the parks (better than “spot the hidden mickeys” anyways). but i think another part of the appeal was that every disney ghetto we found added to the challenge of believing in the disney magic. no one likes a mental exercise to be a cakewalk, so the added challenge was exciting, in a way.

and yes, i fully recognize that i am a complete weirdo. i may very well be the only person who sees disney world and family photographs in this way, but that’s ok. it adds to the fun :)

anyway, the point is, i love this particular family photograph (yea, remember that’s what this post was supposed to be about?) and i wanted to give props to Loula for rocking, and also for taking this picture.


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